December 21

1862: Don Bosco’s teachers approved

The Oratory teachers were not required in the early years to he certified by the state. Now there was a danger that the State might stop them from teaching and hence close down Don Bosco’s schools. The saint went in person to Mr. Selmi, the supertintendent of schools, to obtain the required exemption. At the outset Selmi was very rude with him and was in no way inclined to give in. But Don Bosco was very patient and kind with the officer.This softened his earlier rigid attitude. “Listen, Father,” he (Selmi) continued, “I thought you were an idiot but I now see I was mistaken. No idiot could ever run an institution like yours. But why do you keep lighting government and local authorities?” “Commendatore, I challenge that assertion. I have lived in this city over twenty years and have always enjoyed the good will of all my fellow citizens. No one has ever charged me with disobedience to civil authority…” “I perfectly agree with you, but I must say that I don’t particularly like your writings…” “Kindly point out, personally or through others, what should be revised, and I assure you that I will give it serious thought.” “I appreciate your being so obliging. I like that. But now let’s talk of the problem you have run into with your schools and of your difficulties in submitting to local school authorities.” “There are no difficulties. I am only requesting that you permit my teachers to continue teaching…They are receiving no salary. They are former pupils themselves, and they are glad to work for the benefit of youngsters, as others once did for them.” “Then I see no trouble. If that’s how matters stand, I give your teachers my approval without further ado. Just draw up a formal petition to me, listing their names and the classes they teach, and as soon as I get it, I’ll send you the proper decree of approval immediately.” (BM VII, 190-92)

1868: Death of Vacchetta, foretold by Don Bosco

On November 10,Don Bosco exhorted all the boys to make the exercise for a Happy Death since that was to be the last one for one of them. Everyone at the Oratory was awaiting the fulfillment of Don Bosco’s prediction. The exercise was held on December 12. A few days later, the student Paul Vacchetta fell ill and died on December 21. Besides the three predicted in the dream, six other pupils had died during that years. (BM IX, 203)

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